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Chocolate and Amaretti Flan

Recipes

This flan – known as a bonet – is a traditional sweet from the Piedmont region of Italy and is a bit like the local version of a crème caramel but flavoured with chocolate and amaretti biscuits.

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The recipe comes from Italian food writer Emiko Davies’ latest cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, which takes its name from a tradition started by her nonno-in-law of ringing in the new year with tortellini al sugo.

In the book, Davies shares favourite family recipes, some of which can be traced back generations.

Bonet (Chocolate and Amaretti Flan)

The centuries-old bonet is a bit like a Piemontese crème caramel, but flavoured with chocolate and amaretti biscuits. It’s a simple, homely dessert that I think needs nothing more than the bittersweet caramel spooned over the top, but it’s not always served that way and, if you want to skip the caramel, you could also decorate it with whipped cream, some whole or crushed amaretti, or a sprinkling of finely chopped hazelnuts.

Like other classic Piedmont desserts, this is usually made with amaretti di Saronno, the hard and crunchy type, but if you have trouble finding them you can use savoiardi biscuits with a splash of amaretto liqueur. You can also prepare this in a pudding mould or even in individual ovenproof ramekins.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Butter, for greasing
175g sugar
4 eggs
375 ml (1½ cups) full-cream (whole) milk, warmed
15g bittersweet (unsweetened) cocoa powder, sifted
35g amaretti (about 10 small amaretti biscuits), crushed, plus extra for decoration
Splash of rum, grappa or similar (optional)

Method

Lightly grease a loaf (bar) tin, approximately 11 x 25cm, and preheat the oven to 150C.

Place 100g of the sugar in a saucepan and shake or tap the pan so that the sugar sits in a flat layer. Add 1 tablespoon water and melt gently over a low–medium heat. Slowly, the sugar will begin to melt and bubble, appearing first to look crystallised. Resist any temptation to stir it, but keep an eye on it until the sugar begins to turn liquid and then a pale amber colour. Now it will begin to change quite quickly. At this point you can give the pan a swirl to make sure all the sugar crystals melt. As soon as it is completely liquid and the sugar reaches a deep amber colour, remove from the heat and pour it into the greased loaf tin. In total, this should take about 5–7 minutes. Set the pan aside and let it cool.

In a mixing bowl, gently whisk (rather than use an electric mixer, which will result in too many air bubbles) the eggs and the rest of the sugar. Slowly add the warm milk, along with the sifted cocoa powder. Strain the mixture into another bowl, then add the crushed amaretti, and the rum if using. Pour into the tin, over the top of the caramel, then place the tin in a large, deep baking dish. Pour hot water into the baking dish to come halfway up the side of the tin holding the bonet mixture and bake for 50 minutes, or until the top is set and springy.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before chilling in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. To serve, run a thin, sharp knife around the edges of the bonet, then turn it out onto a long, flat plate. Serve in slices with some of the caramel spooned over the top.

This is an edited extract from Tortellini at Midnight by Emiko Davies, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $52, available in stores nationally. Food photographer: © Lauren Bamford.

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